National take-back days have allowed participating agencies to take more than 4.1 million pounds of unwanted or expired prescription medications out of circulation since DEA

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days' Lasting Appeal

DEA started this in September 2010. Its eighth day, April 26, 2014, resulted in 390 tons of pills being brought to more than 6,000 collection sites, meaning 4.1 million pounds of prescription medications have been collected to date. The most recent collection day took place last month.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration held its ninth and final National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Sept. 27, almost four years to the day after starting this program on Sept. 25, 2010. That first collection day saw just 242,000 pounds of prescription medications dropped off, but the eighth day in the series, April 26, 2014, resulted in 390 tons of pills being brought to more than 6,000 collection sites. DEA reports that 4.1 million pounds of prescription medications have been collected as of that date.

DEA says following the enactment of the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which authorized DEA to develop and implement regulations that outline methods the public and long-term care facilities can use to transfer prescription drugs to authorized collectors for the purpose of disposal, the agency published new disposal regulations (www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov). As a result, DEA isn't planning to sponsor any more nationwide Take-Back Days.

"DEA's National Prescription Drug Take-Back events provide an obviously needed and valued service to the public, while also reducing prescription drug abuse and trafficking," DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart said earlier this year. "By taking these medications off their hands, our citizens know they have made their own families and communities safer. We continue to work toward making the process for disposing of controlled substance medications by users and their caregivers even easier by creating regulations that will enable the public to regularly, safely, and conveniently dispose of such medicines when they are no longer needed or wanted."

Non-medical usage of controlled substance medications is at an all-time high, according to the agency, which cites the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which 6.8 million Americans reported having abused prescription drugs in 2012. The study also showed more than 54 percent of people who abuse prescription pain relievers got them through friends or relatives, a statistic that includes taking medications from the family medicine cabinet.

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